News & Politics

What You Need to Know Before Sessions Testifies at the Senate Intelligence Committee Today

Attorney General Jeff Sessions speaks about crime to local, state and federal law enforcement officials Friday, March 31, 2017, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

Senator Sessions will be testifying before the Senate Intelligence Committee at 2:30 p.m. today. The event has not received as much fanfare as COMEY DAY did, but it will be watched by many who are hoping for a smoking gun or gotcha moment that will land President Trump and all his people in jail immediately.

We know one of the issues on which the committee will be focused will be Sessions’ two meetings with THE RUSSIANS and the mysterious, new third meeting in April of 2016. It’s important to get the facts straight before the inquisition committee meets so you are able to discern what is spin and lies and what is truth.

The first “meeting” with Senator Sessions and THE RUSSIANS took place at a Heritage Foundation event held at the RNC in July of 2016. The second meeting was in Sessions’ office in September 2016, and we have very little to go on regarding the third meeting.

The RNC meeting between Sessions and Russian Ambassador Kislyak (“the first meeting”) is described by the Washington Post:

Sessions attended a Heritage Foundation event in July on the sidelines of the Republican National Convention that was attended by about 50 ambassadors. When the event was over, a small group of ambassadors approached Sessions as he was leaving the podium, and Kislyak was among them, the Justice Department official said.

Sessions then spoke individually to some of the ambassadors, including Kislyak, the official said. In the informal exchanges, the ambassadors expressed appreciation for his remarks and some of them invited him to events they were sponsoring, said the official, citing a former Sessions staffer who was at the event.

So Sessions was at an event with 50 ambassadors, and he spoke to Kislyak (among others) in broad daylight and in full view of attendees of the event. Is this encounter one we want to ascribe a nefarious meaning to? A meeting in broad daylight doesn’t seem like an ideal place for international subterfuge.

Let’s talk about what the meeting with THE RUSSIANS in Senator Sessions’ office (“the second meeting”) actually means. Senator Jeff Sessions met with Ambassador Kislyak in September in his Senate office. That’s because he was a senator who sat on the Armed Services Committee, as well as the Budget, Environment and Public Works, and Judiciary Committees.

Sessions also met with the ambassador for the Ukraine prior to meeting with Kislyak; in fact, he met with 30 different ambassadors over an eight-month period. Senators regularly meet with ambassadors. Here is a picture of a meeting with Democrats Reed, McCaskill, and Landrieu and Russian Ambassador Kislyak. The media and the Democrats would have you believe Sessions’ meeting with an ambassador is out of the ordinary and exotic. It’s not; it’s part of his job.

https://twitter.com/AlexPappas/status/837376403607793665

What did they talk about in their meeting? I don’t know, but since then-Senator Sessions met with numerous other ambassadors, it doesn’t seem out of the ordinary for him to meet with the ambassador for Russia.

And then there is the matter of a purported third meeting with RUSSIAN Kislyak, a meeting that former FBI Director James Comey mentioned he did not want to discuss in the open, public Senate Intelligence Committee hearing last week. Instead, Comey merely insinuated this potential third meeting was one of the reasons Sessions would choose to recuse himself from the ongoing DOJ RUSSIAN INVESTIGATION. From Fox News:

But in his long-awaited testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday, Comey told lawmakers he believed it was “inevitable” that Sessions would recuse himself from Russia probe.

“We also were aware of facts that I can’t discuss in an open setting that would make his continued engagement in a Russia-related investigation problematic,” Comey said.

Here’s what CNN reports:

Comey explained that the possibility there could have been another encounter was not something he wanted to discuss in the earlier public hearing, according to a source familiar with the briefing.

The information is based in part on Russian-to-Russian intercepts where the meeting was discussed, three sources familiar with the information tell CNN.

But the sources said it is possible the ambassador, Sergey Kislyak, was exaggerating the extent of the encounter.

Exaggerated? So this information isn’t actually reliable? I have to wonder: Why would this unreliable information make Sessions’ “continued engagement in a Russia-related investigation problematic”? It wouldn’t, naturally, but it would provide fodder for the Democrats and the media and continue to spread chaos for the Trump administration — which serves the agenda of a disgruntled employee like Comey. As of right now, we have not a shred of evidence anything improper occurred between Sessions and Kislyak at the Mayflower and since everything else is leaking, why wouldn’t the actual evidence leak too?

What do we know about this possibly “exaggerated” third meeting that will be a subject of inquiry today?

According to ABC News:

Sessions is prepared to make clear that there was no “third meeting” with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak at the Mayflower Hotel, the source said, pushing back on reports that Sessions could have met with Kislyak at an April 2016 Trump campaign event they both attended at the hotel.

The Justice Department has said that Sessions was at the Mayflower that day, but there were no private or side conversations between the two.

So both men were at the same hotel at the same time. Is there evidence they met? We haven’t seen it and all we have is a report that is possibly exaggerated. So once more, all  hat and no cattle.

The above occurrences are concerning to the Democrats and the media because of Senator Al Franken’s question to Sessions during his confirmation hearing for attorney general. They claim the Sessions lied under oath. Here is the exchange:

FRANKEN: CNN just published a story alleging that the intelligence community provided documents to the president-elect last week that included information that quote ‘Russian operatives claimed to have compromising personal and financial information about Mr. Trump.’ These documents also allegedly say quote, ‘there was a continuing exchange of information during the campaign between Trump surrogates and intermediaries for the Russian government.

Again, I’m telling you this is just coming out, so, you know. But, if it’s true it’s obviously extremely serious. And if there is any evidence that anyone affiliated with the Trump campaign communicated with the Russian government in the course of this campaign, what will you do?

SESSIONS: Senator Franken, I’m not aware of any of those activities. I have been called a surrogate at a time or two in that campaign and I did not have communications with the Russians, and I’m unable to comment on it.

Was Sessions’ above articulated contact with THE RUSSIANS (one Russian, actually) a “continuing exchange of information during the campaign”? Did Sessions see his contact with Russian operatives (again, really just Kislyak) as part of the course of the campaign? Did Sessions meet with Kislyak as a campaign surrogate “exchanging information,” or as a senator doing his job talking to a diplomat? Now the dossier Franken was referring to in the confirmation hearing has since been discredited. Why would Sessions even imagine he was connected to a discredited Russian blackmail dossier, the contents of which he was entirely unfamiliar with?

And one more piece of information for the context of the Sessions/Trump/whoever is the target witch hunt: no one thought Trump was going to win. How did the Russians know to “turn” Sessions into their agent and what use would that have been if Trump was going to lose as was expected? This pomp and circumstance isn’t about the foreign or Russian influence of the Trump administration. This is just a smear tactic to taint the Trump administration and render the administration ineffective, surrounded in a cloud of (continually discredited) suspicion. The latest stink bomb was thrown by Comey, who has a questionable history of prosecuting his targets.

So as you watch Sessions today, remember that he wanted to appear in an open forum rather than behind closed doors. This is the behavior of a man who wants to clear his name and not the actions of a man who is trying to hide sketchy allegiances.  The Democrats and the media are desperate for material, material they can obsess about on the cable stations and the news and material they can misrepresent to the voters to gain an electoral advantage. And since all their efforts are directed at undermining the administration and not on the electoral failures that led to the loss of the presidency and 1,042 state and federal Democratic posts, they’ll need all the help they can get. Don’t give it to them.